Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder

With clams, bacon, potatoes and veggies swimming in a rich tomato broth, Manhattan Clam Chowder is a perfect first course or entree soup. With clams, bacon, potatoes and veggies swimming in a rich tomato broth, Manhattan Clam Chowder is a perfect first course or entree soup.

Everyone’s heard of creamy New England Clam Chowder, but did you know it has a healthier cousin?  Manhattan Clam Chowder, the “red clam chowder”, swaps a tomato broth for the cream and can even include a few more veggies.  But they both have some things in common including tasty clams, chunky potatoes and savory bacon. 

I first posted this recipe in 2014, to celebrate my second trip to Manhattan (New York City)—and to use up an abundance of tomatoes.  That Manhattan Clam Chowder recipe was modified from one in the Milwaukee Journal and this time I added a couple more changes.  Now I include chopped pancetta (I found this already minced at Trader Joe’s) or bacon, along with celery and yellow pepper for a flavor boost and to well, to “add a veggie!” With clams, bacon, potatoes and veggies swimming in a rich tomato broth, Manhattan Clam Chowder is a perfect first course or entree soup.

Step by Step Directions

To start, sautee the pancetta or bacon, then the onions and celery.sautee veggies and bacon

Add the tomatoes, herbs, and remaining veggies and cook until tender. chopped carrot

Add the clams and clam juice, then thin with wine or both if too thick, or thicken with tomato paste (or if you simply want more tomato flavor) and bring back to a simmer. Soup simmering

Serve warm.  

Notes and Tips

I was focused on creating a dish that could go into regular rotation, so I went for the readily available canned clams rather than fresh. Canned clams come minced, chopped or whole.  I used chopped clams to have some pieces of substance yet minimize the risk of hitting a rubbery piece.  Not to mention the risk of grossing out my youngest (aka my picky daughter).  Definitely a rec. if serving kids, but otherwise it’s a matter of personal preference. can of clams

It is possible to make the soup using fresh clams, but you do need to know how to work with them (not covered here). Many years ago, my father had an unpleasant surprise on a business trip to France when he ignored his waitress’s counsel and pried open a closed mussel to see a putrid liquid spill out. 

Your tomato options are many here.  Fresh, canned or frozen!  Canned can go in right from the can, but for fresh, be sure to remove some of the seeds and surrounding liquid so there is less liquid.  Ditto for frozen, but in that case, you can just squeeze out excess water after they are thawed (see below).  cutting tomatoes

If you don’t know how to freeze tomatoes, it is super easy.   Just core them by cutting off the stem scar and pop in a container or plastic bag–no peeling or blanching needed! To thaw place briefly in warm water; when thawed the skins will slip off and you can even squeeze out excess water, which I recommend for this soup.  I do bagfuls every fall!

With clams, bacon, potatoes and veggies swimming in a rich tomato broth, Manhattan Clam Chowder is a perfect first course or entree soup.What to serve with clam chowder

Manhattan Clam Chowder works as a tasty first course that can begin any dinner.  It is especially nice before Friday night seafood meals. 

But this Manhattan Clam Chowder recipe has all the components of an entrée soup and makes a lovely light supper.  Consider serving with a salad like this Berry Salad for even more nutrition!  Or add a nice crusty bread to please even the heartiest eaters! With clams, bacon, potatoes and veggies swimming in a rich tomato broth, Manhattan Clam Chowder is a perfect first course or entree soup.

A bite of Manhattan Clam Chowder

Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

With clams, bacon, potatoes and veggies swimming in a rich tomato broth, Manhattan Clam Chowder is a perfect first course or entree soup.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces chopped bacon (see note 1)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter if needed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 2 cups chopped seeded tomatoes (or a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 0-1 cup dry white wine (see note 2)
  • ½ cup chopped yellow pepper
  • 1 cup diced potato
  • 2 6.5 ounce cans of clams, including juice
  • 4 Tablespoons of tomato paste (optional)
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chop pancetta or bacon, then fry on medium high in a large saucepan or stock pot. Remove from heat when pancetta starts to sizzle or bacon is crisp. If using bacon, remove all but 1-2 Tablespoons of fat from the pan. If using pancetta, add 1 Tablespoon butter.
  2. Place the pan back on medium low heat and add the chopped onion and celery. Cook until tender.
  3. Add the tomatoes (canned or fresh), thyme and carrots. Cook until tomatoes start to break down and carrots are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and yellow pepper. If sauce looks very thick, you can add some wine now, but remember that you are adding clam juice later. Continue cooking until everything is tender.
  4. Add clams and their juice. Add (additional) wine if needed to achieve desired thickness. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Bring back to a simmer, then serve.

Notes

Chopped pancetta is a lovely alternative to bacon

You can use vermouth or broth in place of the white wine. Use the amount you need to thin the soup to your liking.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 304Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 4gSugar: 14gProtein: 32g

Nutrition data accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.

24 thoughts on “Easy Manhattan Clam Chowder

  1. Kathy

    Hey, we have some ugly tomatoes sitting on our counter right now. They may just have to make some Manhattan Clam chowder. Hey, will you say hi to my daughter if you run into her in NYC?

    1. Inger Post author

      Does she live there Kathy? I always feel if your kids move away, the least they can do is live somewhere interesting to visit!

      1. Kathy

        Yes, she does, Inger, but maybe not for long. She’s lived there for maybe 3-5 years, and now wants to move somewhere out-of-the-city. I have so enjoyed visiting her there, and our son in San Diego.

  2. Beth

    Lucky you to get back to NYC so soon! Have a wonderful time – and post more photos!

    By the way, the tomatoes may have been ugly but the soup looks amazing. Hope you all enjoyed it.

  3. Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog

    Have fun in New York!! I always wonder the same thing about the tomatoes with holes..so I have to cut them up to make sure no one is home lol. I didn’t know that there was such a thing as manhattan clam chowder or that it had a tomato base (even though I lived in NY for three years!!) so I’ll have to try this with all the extra tomatoes in my garden.

  4. Pingback: FoodHomeLifeStyle 5 Warm & Satisfying Winter Soups - FoodHomeLifeStyle

    1. Inger Post author

      I love New England Clam Chowder too, but always love when I can get some more veggies in!

  5. John / Kitchen Riffs

    I love clam chowder! And go back and forth between liking New England or Manhattan better. So I often settle on Rhode Island style — which is kind of a mix of the two! Anyway, this looks great. Much as I like making this with whole clams, truth is I use canned more often simply because they’re so convenient. Thanks!

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